Providing an invisible boundary where pets learn not to venture into is a more effective way of containing our dogs while giving them the freedom to play. Electric dog fences provide such benefits. Unfortunately, picking the right one may not be really that easy as there are a lot of choices in the market. Thankfully, we’ve devoted our resources in coming up with the 15 best electric dog fences in 2018 so you can start installing one for the safety of your pet.
How Much Does an Electric Fence for Dogs Cost?
Electric dog fences or a wireless pet containment system create an invisible barrier between your property and the outside environment. Wires are placed underground or above ground to approximate the boundaries of your property or where you deem off-limits to your dogs and other pets. This is connected to a transmitter or a monitoring device. A separate receiver is embedded in the dog’s collar. If the system is active, every time the dog goes near the electrically-charged invisible fence, it connects with the collar-mounted receiver to deliver an electric charge which startles the dog but never hurt or injure it.
If you do decide to install an electric dog fence, there are certain things that you really have to consider. Typically, you’ll save a lot if you’re going to install it yourself. However, do keep in mind that you will still have to purchase the system and any other extras. Here are the things that you may have to prepare for.
- Invisible Fence with Collar Package
Most manufacturers of canine invisible enclosures provide a complete set that already includes the wiring, a dog perimeter collar, and a transmitter. These usually runs anywhere from $100 to about $400, although it’s not unusual to find something cheaper or even more expensive. Know that this does not cover installation yet.
This is greatly dependent on the size of your property or the actual perimeter of the property you may want to enclose. If you purchase an invisible dog fence kit that already comes with wiring, you may want to look at the length of the included wire as it may not be enough to cover your area. If you’re not going to buy a kit, you can expect to pay around $30 to $70 for your wiring, again depending on the length that you need.
- Dog Collar
If you are going to purchase this separately from the system or if you need an additional collar for some of your dogs, receiver collars usually range in price from $15 to $75 with the average at around $50. Most kits come with one or two collars so this should be enough if you only have 1 or 2 dogs at home. However, if you have quite a number of pooches, you may have to purchase additional units for each one of them.
The receivers and transmitters of the system typically run on batteries. As such you are also expected to purchase an appropriate battery charger. As much as possible, don’t get anything without a UL seal. These may save you a lot but they are often at a greater risk for electrical mishaps. You should get a good charger for about $50, although really excellent ones can cost $300 or even more. You may also need to consider the number of units you need to charge at any given time. This should also be factored in your buying decision.
It is a general recommendation that batteries be replaced at least every 4 months; that’s 3 times a year. This can easily translate to around $60 up to $90 per year on a single unit alone. Again, you may choose to go on the ultra-cheap side of things but it may not be a wise investment. It’s always safer to choose a UL-tested and certified battery, too.
- Voltage Meter
While not absolutely necessary, you may also want to invest in a voltage meter to determine or evaluate the electric charge of the system. Depending on the model or brand of the voltage meter, prepare to pay around $5 for the cheapest or $30 for the more expensive ones. Again, don’t forget the UL seal in these products.
- Professional Installation
Like we have already said, you can install the electric fence for dogs yourself or you can get a professional to do it for you. The only downside to hiring a professional is that you can easily shell out anywhere between $900 and $1,300. This is a rather steep price for installing an invisible fence. The good news is that they do it so efficiently that they can have the whole system up and running in just a short period of time. However, it is always best to check and hire someone with a solid background and certification on these systems.
How to Install an Electric Dog Fence
Installing an electric dog fence can be a very fulfilling DIY project if you know what you’re doing. It’s almost similar to erecting a physical enclosure, only this time you will be working with electronic gadgets and gears rather than wood, mortar, or bricks. The good news is that it really is easy to install an electric dog fence. Here’s how.
- Plot your ‘invisible’ boundaries.
It’s always a good idea to plot your ‘boundaries’ on a graphing paper to get an idea of where to place your transmitter as well as the length of wire that you will need. Do take note that property corners must be designed in an arc as doing it at an angle can confuse the electronic transmitter. Additionally, the wire must form a continuous loop from and to the transmitter. Always consider the presence of other electrical fixtures such as electric wires, TV cables, telephone wires, antenna dishes, or even antenna wires. Never run the invisible fence wires along these structures. Also, do not cross power lines.
- Install the transmitter.
An excellent place to install the transmitter in is your garage. It’s dry and provides adequate protection for this sensitive unit from the elements. However, it is important not to install it near your circuit breaker. Additionally, mount your transmitter away from other electronic appliances in your garage. Never install your transmitter in a shed or even your barn as the risk of fire or electric shock is simply too great if the unit gets exposed to the elements. In installing the transmitter, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. Also, don’t forget to ground it.
- Lay the wire above ground.
Using your diagram or your plot lay down the wire along your ‘marked’ boundaries. If there are obstacles within your containment area, you can twist the wires together to cancel the signal. This is especially important in working around swimming pools, landscape elements, trees, and other obstacles.
- Connect the wire and turn on the system
Once you’re satisfied with the layout of your wiring, you can now connect the terminals of your boundary wires to your transmitter.
- Test the receiver on the collar.
With the wires still above ground and the system turned on, get the collar receiver and test if it emits a sound, vibrations, or even delivers a shock – depending on the setting that you’ve programmed on the transmitter – once it is within range of your electric fence. Manufacturers often provide adjustable settings in how near your pet can get close to the invisible boundary before it is ‘startled’ by the system. Check if it is working within your set parameters.
- Fix the wire.
Once you’ve ascertained that all of the transmitter, wiring, and receiver are working as planned, you can start fixing the wire in its position. Majority of installers recommend burying the wire about 1 to 3 inches underground. While this is absolutely not necessary, having the wire above-ground can pose some issues later on. If you have a chain-link fence, do not run your boundary wire close to it. If you need to add more wires, make sure that it is of the appropriate size and one that is recommended by the manufacturer. Also, use only wire connectors approved for such a purpose. Always test the connection with the wire connectors on before you fix it with a silicone caulk and electrical tape, once the caulk has dried. If you really have to cross surfaces, you will need to create a trench to put the wire in. Again, you have to check the connection before patching the trench with an appropriate substance.
- Ground the system.
Manufacturers always have recommendations for grounding as several systems have been known to be especially vulnerable to power surges and lightning strikes. Even if your system says it is relatively ‘immune’ from such phenomenon, it is still a lot better to be on the safe side.
Benefits of a Wireless Electric Dog Fence
An invisible dog fence is always an excellent choice for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common benefits of an electric canine fence.
- It’s cheaper than conventional fences.
Given a ¼ to ½ acre property, installing a wireless dog fence can set you back by about $220, excluding labor. A wired dog fence can be had up and running for only $100 if you decide to do it yourself. Getting a professional will set you back by about $800 or so. A chain link fence, on the other hand, can easily run anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000 if you’re going to do it yourself. Hiring a professional can easily cost you around $4,000 up to $7,500 for the same size of lot. Getting a wooden fence is a bit more expensive. A DIY project can cost up to $4,500. Getting a pro to do it will jack up the price up to $15,000 with $5,000 being the minimum.
Aside from the cost of installation, maintaining and repairing physical enclosures can also be sources of additional expenses. This is especially true for ranch-type wooden fencing as wood doesn’t really bid well against the elements. On the other hand, while you may have to check the integrity of your electrical system from time to time and replace the batteries several times a year, these should not cost you a fortune.
Technically, no matter how you look at it, installing an invisible fence is definitely more cost-effective than a traditional enclosure. It’s a lot easier to install, too.
- It’s more discreet.
Because there are no physical barriers, you can take pride in your elegant landscaping a lot more. You get to enjoy the fantastic views without any obstructions. This can also translate to a much higher value for your home in case you do decide to sell it.
- It makes your pets happy.
This is perhaps one of the real benefits of having an electric fence for dogs. We all know that our pets require plenty of exercise and play time for them to really feel happy, content, and not develop any behavioral issues that are commonly seen in pooches that are caged all their life. Not only are these pets more emotionally stable, they are more agile, stronger, and less prone to the development of canine health conditions, too.
Having an electric fencing for dogs also keeps our pets safe. They can roam around freely in our property without running across the street or even wandering into other people’s backyard or property. Some homeowners are not really that kind when somebody else’s pet wanders into their property. You will also have peace of mind knowing your precious pets are well within the confines of your property.
Invisible canine enclosures can also be an excellent tool for obedience training. At any rate, the versatility of the system far outweighs any concern that you may have.
Underground or Above Ground Electric Fence?
One of the most common questions that potential users of an electric fence for dogs have is related to the placement of the wiring. Let us look at the merits of each one including their drawbacks so you’ll be able to make the right decision as to which method you will observe for your system.
- Above Ground dog fence
The obvious advantage of an above ground installation is that it simplifies the whole installation process. You simply stretch your wiring along your preferred route and you’re essentially done. You don’t need to remove anything or even dig a trench to run the wiring through. You can also let nature take its course and let grass and weeds slowly cover it over time.
The drawback, of course, is that it can be an eyesore to your lawn, backyard, or landscape as it doesn’t really look nice to have an electric wire running across your lawn. While it is true that the wire can be covered by grass, if you happen to forget where it is and you start mowing your lawn, there’s a great chance you might hit the wire. If there is no cover, then kids playing in the area can trip on it.
- Underground dog fence
The weaknesses of an above ground wiring installation are undoubtedly the strengths of an underground system. Since the wiring is essentially underground, there are no wires to trip to or even to cut when mowing your lawn. Additionally, people won’t even know you have wires under your property. And it’s safer for kids, too.
The negative? Well, you really have to dig trenches and even purposely modify certain structures in your landscape to accommodate your wiring. This significantly increases the amount of time that you will spend and added complexity in installing the system. And if you’re not really that skilled as a handyman, you’ll more likely to do more damage to your property than you ever hope for.
Training Your Dog for Your Invisible Electric Fence
You may have the most high-tech invisible electric fence in town, but if you don’t train your dog to get acquainted with the system, you’re only spending on worthless technology. It is for this reason that you take time teaching your dog on its new electric fence the moment you already have the system up and running. Here’s how.
- Mark the boundaries of the electric fence with the special training flags that came with your system. Alternatively, you can also use cones to create an outline of your invisible fence.
- Walk your dog on a leash and follow the border. Make sure the system has been turned off. This is the best time to get your pet acquainted with the flags as well as other new features in your yard.
- After several rounds following the boundaries of the invisible fence, activate the fencing and continue walking your dog on a leash. Make sure to walk only in areas where there is a warning tone. Do this every day for a week.
- Attach your dog to a retractable leash and stake this at a point in your yard where its maximum length will only reach up to the area of tone warnings. Let go of your pet, but with the retractable leash on. Let it roam the area. Again, do this every day for a week.
- Lengthen the retractable leash so that its maximum length now extends beyond the border of the invisible fence. If your dog activates the warning beep, call it immediately, praise it and give its treats.
- If it ignores your calls, your dog will receive a correction depending on how you setup the system. If this occurs go to your dog and walk it along the border of the fence, making sure it strays into the border and beyond it. This helps reinforce your dog’s recognition of the warning tones and the shock.
- Over the course of the next several sessions, remove a few of the visual markers. Keep putting your dog on a leash until it has ‘memorized’ the boundaries.
Electric Dog Fence FAQ
Q: How do I fix a wire break in an electric dog fence?
A: One of the most troublesome issues with wired electric dog fences is the tendency of the wires to break. It can be due to an accident or it can even be on purpose or it can just be because of an aging system. Regardless of the cause of the break, it is important to fix it so you get to continue enjoying the full benefits of having such an invisible fence around your home.
However, before you could even fix a broken wire in the system you should first be able determine its exact location. Most transmitters come with built-in alarms that will notify you if there is a break in the wiring. You can perform a short loop test or even use an ohmmeter to establish the patency of the transmitter.
These tests will only indicate that you have a break in your electric dog fence, however. These don’t tell you where the break is. To do this you will need to take care and physically inspect the entire length of your wiring, starting at the transmitter. Follow the wire and carefully inspect every inch of exposed wires. If there are no visible defects you can continue following the path of the wire. If it is in-ground, you will have to observe for any signs of disturbance on the top soil covering the wire. For instance, if you notice signs of rodent-digging in an area where your wire is located, then you may have a possible break in this location. Pay special attention to areas with heavy foot traffic as well as the edge lines of sidewalks and driveways as these are the most common areas where breaks can occur.
If you don’t like such methods you may want to invest in some technologies designed specifically to identify the location of the wire break. Do understand that such systems also have their own limitations.
Once you have isolated where the break is, fixing it should be fairly easy. While different manufacturers have their recommended way of fixing breaks in their system, you can always decide to keep it simple. Strip the wire and create a butterfly twist to keep both tires together. Tie a knot in the butterfly twist and secure it with electrical tape.
If the tension on the wire is great that doing the butterfly twist may cause further break anywhere along the length of the wire, you may have to cut it and use a splice kit to join the two cut ends. The process will still be the same, except that you’ll have 2 joints instead of one.
Q: What is the best wire size for my invisible dog fence?
A: Here’s the general rule: the thicker the wire, the more resilient it is against breakage. Electric wires come in gauges such as 14-gauge, 16-gauge, and the like. The number of the gauge is inversely proportional to its capacity and resilience. As such, the lower the number of the gauge (14 vs 20), the more resilient and bigger it is. That being said, deciding on the best wire size for your dog is all a matter of how powerful a digger your pet is. You definitely want a wire that can resist breakage. And if your pet happens to have a knack for chewing on things then you might want a lower-gauged wire.
Q: Can I place my wire above ground instead of burying it?
A: Depending on the manufacturer of the system you’re buying, you can actually place the wiring above ground instead of burying it. Do take note, however, that there are certain drawbacks to an on-ground layout of wiring as it is physically visible on the ground. Your dog can nibble on the wire if the system is turned off or your pet is not wearing its dog boundary collar. People may also trip on it or may be broken by your lawnmower or any other equipment. Plus, it’s not really a great sight having wires all over your yard.
Q: Does the shock from the electric dog fence hurt my dog?
A: Advocates of positive reinforcement in canine training will tell you outright that shock coming from an electric dog fence is not a positive way to teach dogs what they need to do. It only tells them what they cannot do. That is why the application of shock should always be done as the last resort since it is a form of aversion technique. A dog avoids the fence because it gets shocked.
As for the safety, experts say that it is relatively safe. Unfortunately, there really is no way of telling if our dogs also get hurt every time they are shocked. Regardless of the ‘level’ of static correction, there will still be signs of tissue injury at the site of the metal probes where the static electricity is delivered. Does it hurt your dog? We dare you to try it yourself. If it doesn’t hurt you, then it shouldn’t hurt your dog. But, if you feel even the slightest discomfort with the application of the shock, then you know that your dog will be hurt, too.
Q: Are electric dog fences effective?
A: Electric dog fences are not effective in keeping your dog within your premises, unless you train them. This is one of the saddest aspects of using technology. People have this thinking that modern technology will answer all of their problems. Unfortunately, no matter how advanced an electric dog fence is, if you don’t teach your dog well enough, then it’s nothing more than a complete waste. Train your dog on how to behave with the electric fence on and you’ll see just how effective it is.
Q: Will lightning or weather affect my electric dog fence?
A: Most electric dog fences already come with excellent weather-proofing. Some have lightning and surge protectors to help minimize, if not eliminate, the risks associated with such electrical problems. A major concern will be the waterproofing of the wires as well as their resistance to environmental degradation. The good news is that modern technologies are now addressing these issues, creating products that are able to resist environmental and weather changes.
Our Top Electric Dog Fence
Picking the best electric dog fence was a bit tricky as there are great contenders in the list. However, we really had to pick one of each type of invisible fence – wired and wireless.
Our pick for the wired electric dog fence is SportDOG brand’s In-Ground Fence System, although PetSafe’s Basic In-Ground Fence came in a very close second. What sold us to the SportDOG is its incredible 100-acre expansion capabilities. As for the wireless system, it was hands-down PetSafe Wireless Fence with a ¾-acre coverage and a 105-foot fully adjustable range.
Personally, we do recommend getting the two systems since the SportDOG can be a very useful pet containment system in our homes. On the other hand, the PetSafe Wireless Fence should really come in handy when traveling with our dogs. Campsites will be a lot safer for our pets with the handy portability of the PetSafe wireless.
More and more dog lovers are installing electric fencing for dogs as a matter of keeping up with society’s expectations for them to be responsible dog owners. Invisible dog perimeter fences are more cost-effective, are easier to install and maintain, and are definitely more beneficial to our dogs’ overall welfare. You can now start installing your own system using any of our 15 best electric dog fences in 2018. You may also like our guide to the best electric dog shock collars.